ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Health has directed Heath Ministry to focus on mass awareness programmes about Hepatitis, Gastro and Polio. The committee met at the Parliament House on Wednesday under the Chairmanship of Senator Abdul Razak A. Thahim, has directed the Ministry of Health that instead of holding elitist seminars and symposia in five star hotels on prevention of diseases like Hepatitis, Gastro, and Polio etc. and wasting precious resources, it should focus on mass awareness programmes involving community leaders like ‘Pesh Imams’ of mosques, ‘Patwaris’, District Health workers, LHVs and bringing out leaflets on prevention in Urdu / regional languages along with ensuring their proper distribution.
Mosques, schools, colleges, community centers, “Choppals” etc be used for this purpose. ‘The farmer working in the field and factory worker has practically no time to go through the newspapers and watch TV. Therefore, such media should be selected, which has access to target groups like the radio’, it observed.
The Senate Committee expressed its deep concern over continued widespread prevalence of Hepatitis (of all five varieties) and in all the four provinces and called for urgent action on war footing to reverse the tide. ‘People are dying daily and we are watching helplessly. This is high time to wake up and galvanize into action as the pestilence has already assumed an alarming proportion’, said the Committee members. The Committee noted the fact that treatment is lengthy as well as very expensive. The situation in the rural and far flung areas of the country is particularly pathetic.
In Sindh alone there are more than 2 million patients whereas NWFP and FATA have nearly 2.2 million Hepatitis patients. Senator Dr. Khalid Soomro, a member of the Committee brought the attention of the Chair that interior Sindh is worse affected.
The contributing factors are yet to be controlled effectively. Water filtration plants installed earlier are not working in their full capacity and many are out of order. Safe blood transfusion continues to be a dream. Similarly, hospitals waste management leaves a lot to be desired. In such a situation, prevalence of the disease is but natural, he added.
The Senate Body also took exception to the reports that senior doctors in government hospitals generally do not attend OPD. In many cases their staff members found luring poor patients to ‘come to the doctor’s clinic in the evening’ and get better. This practice must end forthwith, instructed the Committee. Likewise, it directed that immediate steps be taken for eradication of quackery which is becoming a bane of society. Quacks are playing havoc with public health and they are doing this with impunity.
It urged that the new health policy must address all these issues in a comprehensive manner. The meeting directed the Coordinator, National Hepatitis Control Programme, to undertake a visit of all the four provinces and see facts for himself. The members opined that it is not being carried out in the desired manner and there is much room for improvement.
Reacting to the reports that treatment of Hepatitis costs nearly Rs. 50, 000 for one patient, the Committee directed the Ministry to include one or two Senators (members of the Senate Committee) in their efforts for procuring more funds especially during negotiations with bodies like WHO, UNICEF so that these also have the support of elected representatives of the people. It also demanded that the facilities for PCR test of Hepatitis be provided in all district headquarters hospitals. The meeting was attended, among others, by Senators Mrs. Razina Alam Khan, Mrs. Rehana Yahya Baloch, Abdul Rashid and Dr. Khalid Mahmood Soomro besides senior officials of the Ministry of Health.-SANA